Marketing professionals invest so much time, money, effort, and attention into driving traffic to our websites and converting website visitors into new customers. But, believe it or not, ecommerce customer retention is arguably more important than customer acquisition.
Why? There are plenty of reasons, but here are some main points to consider.
First, there is a 60 to 70 percent chance that existing customers will make an additional purchase, while the chance for additional sales to new prospects is only five to 20 percent.
Also, acquiring new customers is about five times more expensive than selling to your existing customer base. Since returning customers are worth up to 10 times more than their original purchase, it’s clear that we need to start investing more resources into customer retention.
Here are six tactics you can use in keeping your existing customer community engaged and loyal.
1. Get to Know Them One-on-One
One of the most common pieces of advice that startup founders receive is to “Do things that don’t scale.” Even if it’s counterintuitive, there’s plenty of merit to that advice. One of the main reasons why is, it allows entrepreneurs to learn enough about what is and isn’t effective in your business that you can decide later how to start experimenting with scalable versions of whatever you’re doing.
In the ecommerce space, you don’t get the same opportunities to observe and interact with customers that you get in brick-and-mortar retail. Cloud Alchemist founder Trevor Taylor recently told BigCommerce that one of the biggest drivers of loyalty he’s discovered is manually reaching out to customers and actually speaking with them – and not just about their customer experiences.
“I’ve talked with people about the birth of a new child, buying their first house, and losing jobs,” he says. “This is not something you can fake, you have to be genuine, but the response to opening up and being human with customers is immeasurable.”
While this sort of activity is a non-starter for high growth businesses, it’s definitely extremely effective, as one-on-one relationships are all the more likely to stick than those driven by anonymous, automated messaging.
To do this in a scalable way, though, you can segment your customers and reach out to those who have the highest customer lifetime value (CLV) metrics – in other words, those what have already spent more with your shop than anyone else. These are the people whose loyalty is the most rewarding to you as a merchant.
2. Leverage User-Generated Content
A majority of customers who have had a positive experience with your product will be eager share the word with their peers and social networks. These can be in the form of user reviews or brand recommendations.
However, the challenge here is giving them a nudge toward actually making that recommendation. The average customer is more likely to give negative feedback if they are not satisfied, than they are with making a positive review. The key, therefore, is to provide a conducive environment for leaving a positive review.
For an ecommerce company, the best time to ask for a review is when the experience is still fresh. Using Grade.us, you can prompt your buyers to submit feedback post-checkout. In addition, you can nudge them toward making that review if there is an incentive involved – such as a coupon or discount for their next purchase.
The key here is making it easy and accessible – like giving users the option to leave a quick feedback and review from their smartphones, for example.
3. Take Advantage of Retargeting
Retargeting is an advertising method that allows you to keep track of your site visitors and target them in multiple places throughout their browsing experience. By capturing their online behaviors, you can provide them with highly customized, relevant, and engaging ads that can direct them back to your site.
AdRoll is an example of an effective retargeting platform that comes with customer segmentation, geo-targeting and intent-based marketing. The solution basically enables you to personalize each message and impression based on customer activity. The solution works with most advertising platforms, including Google and Facebook, ensuring good coverage for both desktop and mobile audiences. With analytics, you also get a good grasp of the effectiveness of your retargeting campaigns.
Retargeting isn’t only intended for one-time site visitors, though. When actively engaging with your existing customer base throughout their browsing experiences, it heightens their chances of making future purchases, deepens their brand awareness, instills trust, and increases customer advocacy.
4. Gamify the Experience
A great strategy for reaching new, relevant audiences is to utilize your best marketing asset: your customer brand advocates. With tools like Sweet Tooth, you can create engaging programs that offer “points” for various actions, such as making a purchase, sharing your products on social media, or referring your products to friends.
By initiating some sort of loyalty program that instills the feeling of trust and connection between you and the customer, they’re naturally inclined to advocate on your behalf.
With these points, you could offer a variety of things. Perhaps they receive an additional product free during their next purchase, or a discount on a bundle of items specific to their interests. The rewards are up to you and customizable to your goals.
5. Create Social Media Relevance
An essential way to keep your customers engaged after making a purchase is to invite them to follow you on social media. By regularly sharing content on social that’s relevant and beneficial to the customer, you manage to keep their attention and stay on their mind.
Of course, you can’t share just your own sales promotions on your social channels. This annoys customers and increases the chances of them disconnecting from you. Instead, you need to share in-depth, interesting, and engaging content that goes beyond your product. When providing this helpful content, it allows you to become a trustworthy resource for valuable information and not just a brand.
If you want to regularly share a variety of content with your audience, check out Quuu, which automatically posts relevant curated content to social media on your behalf.
This is very simple yet highly effective way to stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds and remain valuable in their daily experiences.
6. Celebrate Milestones
While many brands have adopted the “Happy Birthday” email trend, it’s now common to go beyond the traditional birthday message and celebrate other milestones with your customers. Without needing any additional information from them, you can discover and utilize various occasions as an opportunity to engage with your audience.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to know about overly personal events (A “Hey, hope your surgery went well!” email from Home Depot would be weird), but instead can be smaller things like the one-year anniversary of their first purchase with you or two years since they subscribed to your Loyalty Rewards program.
You might be wondering how you get information on your customers that enables you to reach out to them regarding special occasions. Marketo actually allows you to track their online activity and capture their interests and behaviors, making it easy to learn more about them and follow up with relevant emails.
These small gestures instill brand trust and show that you care about them beyond the traditional sales relationship.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with targeting new customers, but too much attention is focused on new acquisition when there is a tremendous amount of potential in your current customer base.
Although you should have strategies at the forefront for both audiences, it’s crucial to remember that retention can increase your revenue at a much more affordable, attainable pace. The long-lasting impact is clear, and we should view these customers as a crucial asset to our business success.